Thursday, February 22, 2007

Catholics commemorating Orthodox saints?

As this is an intensely interesting topic for me, just wanted to offer my two cents' worth.

It was Met. Andrew Sheptytsky who petitioned Rome to recognize all the Russian Orthodox Saints and this petition was granted in 1904. All the Saints of Orthodox Ukraine and Russia were recognized as such for veneration by the Russian Catholic Orthodox especially. Those who were taken out of the calendar at the time were St Athanasius of Brest (for his opposition to the Unia of Brest), St Photios and St Mark of Ephesus.

In actual fact, St Athanasius of Brest enjoyed a cult among Eastern Catholics, Ukrainians and Belarusyans (if that is an acceptable spelling of the latter) as they saw him not as an ardent anti-unionist, but, primarily, as a national hero who stood up to RC Poland. The Polish Jesuits, in fact, came up with the idea of honouring St Josaphat Kuncevyc on September 16th (and I have an old GC prayerbook that lists his feast on that day) to try and dissuade EC's from honouring St Athanasius on Sept. 18th. It was Met. Andrew Sheptytsky who restored the feast of St Josaphat on November 12/25, having understood the reasons behind the change to Sept. 16th.

Even Bl. Basil Velichkovsky, as we can see from his memoirs that the Redemptorists have published, insisted that all local Orthodox saints continued to be honoured when Orthodox parishes came into union with Rome.

In addition, in the 19th century, the Austro-Hungarian Imperial government laid down an edict that ordered the EC Metropolitan of Lviv to expunge a number of Saints and Miraculous icons of the Theotokos from the EC calendar that it considered "too Orthodox" including the Fathers of the Kyivan Caves Lavra (restored formally by Pat. Joseph Slipyj, along with St Gregory Palamas).

There was even a debate within the Ukrainian Catholic Church about why it itself had not canonized St Josaphat Kuncevyc but had left it to Rome to do so - and, in so doing, had given up what a number had said was the right of an EC Church to glorify its own saints without Rome's permission.

Alexander Roman
Read the rest here.

1 comment:

William Tighe said...

I remember hearing Bishop Seraphim (Sigrist) of the OCA speak in New York City in the early 1990s about a cult of St. Francis of Assisi amongst the Greek Orthodox of some villages of Crete, and how it had persisted despite official diapproval since the union of Crete with Greece in the early 1900s. He even produced a locl icon of the saint.